Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to June 2 inclusive:
3-1 Series (+2.0 units)
All that work for nothing. They played 1,320 regular season games and 84 playoff games to get to this point, and here we are again with the Miami Heat versus the San Antonio Spurs. Oh well. At least we had some fun, and we learned a few things. Maybe some of that knowledge will pay off while we’re betting on the NBA Finals. I’ll be here all week providing you daily coverage so you can keep on top of things while formulating your NBA picks.
Our first order of business: San Antonio’s starting point guard might not be healthy enough to play in Thursday’s series opener. Hmmm… could be worth a mention.
Believe it or not, Tony Parker didn’t play all 1,404 of those NBA games. But he did play in 86 of them, putting well over 2,500 minutes of wear-and-tear on his body, including a Grade 1 sprain of his left ankle in late April. That ankle is barking again; according to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Parker (18.9 PER) sprained it again during Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He kept playing anyway, all the way up to halftime of Game 6, when Parker was finally too hurt to continue. Will he play in Game 1 on Thursday? Popovich says he doesn’t know – as if he would tell us.
Meanwhile, the early NBA betting odds for Thursday are up on the board, and San Antonio has moved from –4 to –3.5 at the majority of our featured online sportsbooks. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, so we can’t say for sure that the basketball betting market is responding to Parker’s uncertain status. But if it is, people have got things all backwards as usual. The Spurs went 11-3 SU and 9-5 ATS in the 14 games Parker missed during the regular season.
As valuable as Parker has been to the Spurs this season, he’s more replaceable than people think. Consider that second half of Game 6 against the Thunder, where Manu Ginobili (20.0 PER) ran the offense and led San Antonio (+3.5 away) back from a seven-point halftime deficit to a 112-107 overtime victory. The Spurs also have Patty Mills (18.7 PER) available off the bench; he’s got a Simple Rating of plus-4.3 at 82games, well ahead of Parker at plus-1.9. The more you know.
With Andersen returning to
duty, the Heat are at full strength and reasonably well rested after playing
just 15 playoff games to San Antonio’s 18. And there was more good news at the
end of Game 6: Greg Oden (12.4 PER) made a rare appearance in garbage time,
playing five minutes and looking relatively spry. Oden could be an X-factor in
one or more games this series. And it’s always nice to have a scorer like
Michael Beasley (16.8 PER) at your disposal, even if he was in street clothes
on Friday. Can we just put these two teams directly into the Finals again next
Da Shaman Do Way, We Like Birdman
Bench strength – especially at the key positions of point guard and center – is one of those myriad things that casual bettors just don’t value highly enough. But if you’ve got half a brain for basketball, you can see what Chris Andersen (18.5 PER) brings to the table. He missed Games 4 and 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers, who took advantage on the glass and managed to split the pair. Andersen returned in Friday’s Game 6 and grabbed 10 rebounds in just 13 minutes. He also scored nine points on 4-for-4 shooting as Miami (–8) cruised 117-92.